What if it wasn’t Miley?

mileydavid lee rothjustin bieberWhat if Justin Bieber went on some nationally televised show and did a tacky, inappropriate, sexually explicit set?

I believe many people would react differently than they did when Miley Cyrus performed on the video music awards last night. But the thing that is interesting to me, is this: even if we want to treat the two cases the same, we are not really equipped by language to do so.
When it comes to most descriptors, language has come to assign the default to male. In English, words like hero, actor, even men (as in “all men are created equal”) might refer to women. In French, a crowd of all women gets the feminine pronoun, elle. A crowd of one million people, even if only one is male, gets the masculine pronoun: il. The exception to this is that phrases that imply judgement based on promiscuity are more naturally applied to women.
Consider the word slut. The natural connotation is a woman. I realize that somebody might claim that this is a problem only in my mind, and it reviels a sexist bias in my own thinking, not in language in general. The problem with this claim is the existence of the word man-slut. It has useage, at least jokingly. It is apparently necessary to define when the term is used for a man. Notice that we don’t use the word woman-slut, or girl-slut, or chick-slut. There would be a redundancy in any of these. Our base assumption is that a slut is a woman; no need to spell that out.
The same argument exists for the word whore. We use the word man-whore, sometimes. But not woman-whore.
The words we have to referring to sexually promiscuous men are few and far between. And they carry a congratulatory air; David Lee Roth famously covered “I’m just a jiggalo” with a proud swagger. The word player/playa reduces sex to a game and a male who frequently engages in sex is somebody who simply figured out the rules.

The solution to all this is not bringing women down to men’s level. It is not o.k. for Miley, Madonna, or Lady Gaga to turn their sexuality into a commodity. (The later 2, I think, have some sort-of sense of irony about the whole thing. Perhaps this redeems it some; I am not sure.) Our reaction to those who would sell themselves so cheaply ought to be the same, whether they are male or female. We ought to reach out with a sense of sadness about their decision, we ought to react with Christ’s love and Christ’s righteousness in equal measure.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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